Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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New State Law Requires Medical Groups to Consult Community Before Bringing Large Facilities to Bronx

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A new state law is making medical organization consult the community before bringing large health care facilities into a neighborhood, but only neighborhoods in the Bronx. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.

A lot on a residential block of Riverdale is where Montefiore Medical Center plans to build an outpatient clinic.

Riverdale residents learned about the plan in October, not from the medical organization, but from a newspaper article.

"The community really didn't know about this at all, and they hadn't gone to the community beforehand to discuss what was going to happen," said Stuart Gartner, co-founder of the Committee to Protect Riverdale.

Concerned residents created the Committee to Protect Riverdale, or CPR, raising objections to the project. They say it didn't create enough parking and isn't accessible to the greater Bronx community that Montefiore says it would serve.

"There are no subways close by," Gartner said. "Oxford Avenue, which is on the other side of Riverdale Avenue, is a windy, hilly street composed of all residential properties with parking on each side.

"The idea of, theoretically, 1,000 people or hundreds of employees parking in that location was just very hard to believe," he said.

Then, there's the size, 11 stories and 93,000 square feet. It's out of scale for this neighborhood, residents say, who are complaining that they were never consulted.

However, Montefiore didn't have to hold a public hearing required of hospitals moving into a neighborhood because its project would only provide outpatient services.

"When you're locating in a community and you're proposing such a massive project, you have a duty to reach out to the community and appease the community, and unfortunately, that wasn't done, so I decided to take legislative action," said state Senator Jeff Klein, whose district covers parts of the Bronx and Westchester.

Klein's legislation, passed in the state budget, would require a community review process before any ground can be broken on any health care facility, but only in the Bronx. The Department of Health has the final say.

"At least we would be afforded an opportunity to be heard," Gartner said.

As of right now, the project is stalled. A Montefiore spokesperson told NY1 that they are still trying to understand the language of the law and what it means for the project.

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